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The Jewish Chronicle - - COMMUNITY NEWS - BY BARRY TOBERMAN

FOR JONNY Wineberg, the “Board of Deputies’ struc­ture is not fit for pur­pose” when it comes to the re­gions.

Over cof­fee in Brack­man’s bak­ery in the north Manch­ester Jewish heart­land, Mr Wineberg stresses that the opin­ion is a per­sonal one and not made on be­half of the Jewish Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Coun­cil of Greater Manch­ester, of which he is ex­ec­u­tive chair.

Mr Wineberg’s beef with the Board re­volves around a lack of pres­ence out­side the cap­i­tal. “You can­not have na­tional ini­tia­tives just based in Lon­don,” he ar­gues. “You have to make them truly na­tional. If you want to en­gage with lo­cal au­thor­i­ties and politi­cians, you have to have some­one in the area.”

As an ex­am­ple, he cites the im­pact made by Man­cu­nian Marc Levy since be­ing ap­pointed the Jewish Lead­er­ship Coun­cil’s north-west re­gional af­fairs man­ager.

The JLC worked in part­ner­ship with the rep coun­cil to pro­duce the man­i­festo for Greater Manch­ester Jewry, which was re­leased to co­in­cide with the re­cent Jewish hus­tings for Manch­ester may­oral elec­tion can­di­dates.

“We want to in­flu­ence what af­fects our com­mu­nity,” says Mr Wineberg, ex­plain­ing that the man­i­festo will also be the ba­sis for deal­ings with 10 lo­cal au­thor­i­ties in the re­gion. “And ev­ery lo­cal author­ity is mak­ing dif­fer­ent de­ci­sions on how to spend its money.”

Among other things, the man­i­festo calls for ac­tion against hate crime, recog­ni­tion of the in­creased costs as­so­ci­ated with Jewish so­cial care and the need for af­ford­able hous­ing for large fam­i­lies in Jewish ar­eas.

The lat­ter point re­flects the con­tin­ued growth of the Charedi pop­u­la­tion, which ac­counts for a third of Manch­ester Jewry and get­ting on for half the Jews liv­ing in north Manch­ester.

“It is af­fect­ing how we plan,” Mr Wineberg ad­mits. For ex­am­ple, although there are not cur­rently huge num­bers of el­derly Charedim in Manch­ester, there will be a so­cial care need longer term.

For now, “Charedi schools have got to meet the chal­lenge of pre­par­ing peo­ple for the real world. It’s ir­re­spon­si­ble if they don’t. They have to find the right bal­ance be­tween re­li­gious and sec­u­lar ed­u­ca­tion.”

The growth of the strictly Ortho­dox com­mu­nity has “slightly hid­den” the drain of young peo­ple to Lon­don and abroad.

“We need to mar­ket our­selves bet­ter,” he says. But that re­quires greater re­sources.

Fund­ing youth pro­vi­sion is an­other chal­lenge. There has been no ad­e­quate re­place­ment for the Jewish Youth Project, which closed eight years ago. Mr Wineberg fears there is no place for young peo­ple on the mar­gins to turn to be­fore their is­sues be­come crit­i­cal. “It isn’t the sex­i­est thing to say you want to do com­mu­nity devel­op­ment and youth work. But if you don’t, I worry about the next gen­er­a­tion of fun­ders and lay lead­ers [com­ing through].” A ma­jor com­mu­nity cen­tre would also help the cause.

As for the rep coun­cil, Mr Wineberg be­lieves it has be­come more fo­cused since a stream­lin­ing halved its lead­er­ship num­bers.

The top po­si­tions have been split, with Sharon Ban­nis­ter, its pres­i­dent, recog­nised as the pub­lic face of the or­gan­i­sa­tion and Mr Wineberg en­gaged more be­hind the scenes. “My role is to en­sure the work­ing groups work.” The groups in­clude pub­lic­ity, fundrais­ing, ed­u­ca­tion and an­ti­semitism.

“We’ve done done so­cial me­dia train­ing, which we’ve never done be­fore be­cause there was no one to do it.” He wants to see bet­ter strate­gic plan­ning adopted else­where in the com­mu­nity. “We still see peo­ple set­ting up new or­gan­i­sa­tions to do things which are be­ing done al­ready.”

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Jonny Wineberg (front left) at a We Stand To­gether event at Heaton Park Syn­a­gogue

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